Shire mare at the Athenry Agricultural Show in County Galway today where -despite the adverse weather conditions- we had a successful display bringing together seven heavy horse breeds in the one place, the first time such an event was staged in Ireland.
Irish Draught with owner Eamonn Foy from Dublin,
Suffolk Punch owned by Ray Kerr from Northern Ireland,
Friesian with owner Val Good from Dublin,
then Percheron owned by Pat Maloney from Galway
and Shire with owner Pat Murray from Roscommon.
Brian Gallagher and his Clydesdale stallion
My Mountain Ardennes shown by Paddy Rooney-Trojan Heavy Horses crew
I had not just chosen prime examples of each heavy horse breed but invited horsemen who were all experienced and professional handlers. This was evident on the day during high winds and squally showers which made the horses excitable and lively.
The upshot of which was a perfect oppurtunity to demonstrate one of the reasons we staged the display; to show to the general public that despite heavy horses being percieved as docile because they are large and slow moving, that given the right conditions they can be (because they are horses) alarmingly lively and light on their feet.
Ray Kerr's Suffolk Punch mare shown by Dave Reid from Dublin.
All experienced horse people know that the bombproof horse does not exist - whatever the breed- so for the sake of safety with the high winds, we decided not to show any heavy horses in vehicles or implements as originally planned, and instead show all seven breeds in hand or in harness.
To mark this first gathering of seven heavy horse breeds in one place each exhibitor was presented with a sash and rossette by the Show Chairman Tommy Whelan.
Val Good and his Friesian gelding which he works as a carriage horse.
Percheron and Friesian
The day went well due to the horsemens' skill and enthusiasm - some travelling from Dublin and Northern Ireland- at their own expense.
All heavy horses were shown by people who work them on roads, farms and forestry- traditional horsemen who keep the future of working horses alive.
More photos to follow.